Lord Digby Jones served in the UK government as Minister of State for Trade & Investment from 2007-8. Digby changed the way UK trade and investment was perceived by delivering a record year for inward investment and expanded the UK’s presence in all of the major international markets.
Lord Digby Jones was born into business. Some of his earliest memories are of life in a busy corner shop where he lived with his mother and father and older sister. It was here he learnt the first rudiments of business – important values that were never to leave him. He discovered the importance of good customer care at an early age and the concept of profit and loss, the very essence of good business management became an everyday reality for the young boy. And when, in the mid-sixties, the supermarkets began to move to the area, he also learned about the vulnerability of business.
At the age of 10 his parents sold the shop and his father became a full-time student, living off a grant, before he finally qualified as a Probation Officer. His mother worked as an Assistant Physiotherapist at the local hospital. It was at this period of his life when Digby first became aware of two very different aspects of the public sector.
His graduation from University College London was followed by 20 years with Edge & Ellison, a Birmingham-based firm of lawyers, where he worked his way up from Articled Clerk to Senior Partner. During these years he was intimately involved in all aspects of business from running the firm “as a business” to recruiting and managing several hundred employees. It was here that he developed a vision of business and its role in society, and began to believe firmly in socially inclusive wealth creation.
In 2000 he joined the CBI and was able to put some of these ideas into action. During his six and a half years as Director General he became known in the public arena especially for his candid, forthright attitude in his many media appearances. He campaigned relentlessly on a range of issues including the move from traditional manufacturing of commodities to value-added, innovative products and services.
In 2005 he was knighted for his services to business and became Sir Digby Jones in the Queen’s New Years Honours List.
When he left the CBI in 2006 he spent the next 12 months in the private sector as adviser to Deloitte and Barclays Capital, held a variety of non-executive board roles, and was the unpaid UK Skills Envoy. In this role he became outraged about the levels of adult illiteracy and innumeracy in the UK, and made the point that we cannot hope to have a safer and healthier society if people lack self-respect or aspiration.
In July 2007 he was appointed Minister of State for UK Trade & Investment and became a life peer taking the title, Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham Kb. Forthright and, as ever, loyal to British business he spent the next 15 months “doing it in a different way”. He did not join the party of government and without the ambition to progress in politics he concentrated on the business of promoting Britain across the world, travelling to 31 countries in 45 overseas visits.
In addition to his role as an active cross-bencher in the House of Lords he serves as Chairman of the International Business Advisory Board at HSBC, Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles Limited, and is Corporate Ambassador for Jaguar Cars and JCB.
Lord Jones is also a reluctant Brexiteer – meaning he would have preferred to stay in the EU had he felt it was “fit for purpose”. His views are entirely non-partisan and the subject has been very well received as a topic across many business audiences. You may like to read a recent article he wrote following a private meeting with Michel Barnier. It is important to stress that Lord Jones is an Active Cross Bench Peer who always says his “constituency” is “business”. The article referred to is enclosed.
He is a highly accomplished international business speaker and orator with a capacity to communicate effectively to a wide range of audiences. As one of the world’s most acclaimed business commentators, Digby Jones entertains and inspires audiences around the globe, with his memorable, bespoke presentations at conferences, seminars and dinners.
Highly original, Digby Jones has a wide range of corporate and public sector clients who value his original thinking and his ability to unify audiences with his captivating and unique personal style. Topics are adapted to suit clients’ individual needs and preferences embracing insightful and topical views on the world’s economies; the changing face of business in the 21st century; and closer to home the ongoing public versus private sector debates. His seminars on leadership and management are much in demand.
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